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United States Plus One

In Citizenship Equality, Commentary and Analysis, Enemies of Equality, H.R. 2499, Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico Democracy Act, Self-Determination, Tennessee Plan, The Big Lie: The PPD's "Commonwealth" on July 22, 2010 at 11:35 PM

How an Independent Mind Can Cut through the Fog of Puerto Rico’s Status Politics


La Chuleta recently received notice that there was some guy out there trying to do an independent project on the status issue of Puerto Rico. Apparently, he noticed that the recently passed H.R. 2499, which could result in Puerto Rican independence or statehood, did not garner the attention of the American people as much as the possible admission of a new state should. The “guy” is Craig Edwards of SolidPrinciples.com, and he set out to find out what is really going on with the status issue, and what he found was nowhere near what he had believed.

With some of the most prominent voices  (and some of the loudest) of the status issue at his disposal, Craig Edwards moves to answer some key question about Puerto Rico’s path to self-determination: 1) Have Puerto Ricans ever voted “against” statehood? 2) If not statehood or independence, then, what? 3) What happened in the 1993 and 1998 plebiscites? 4) Why was H.R. 2499 different from previous plebiscites? 5) Will Puerto Rico be Democratic or Republican? 6) What about bilingualism?

Craig Edwards’ final product does not reflect a pro-statehood or a pro-independence ideology (although there are no Independentistas in the audio); instead, what the audio reveals is an intricate lie that has survived for half a century. With Luis Dávila-Colón, one of Puerto Rico’s foremost political analysts (and a trusted voice everywhere in Puerto Rico) as the fulcrum of the status argument, calumny on Puerto Rico and what it is trying to achieve through self-determination does not stand for long.

Of course there are sides, but that does not subtract from the learning experience of the documentary. Instead, the listeners gets to make their own opinions as to what is really going on in Puerto Rico and why the territory does not seem to find “consensus” on the status question.The sides include pro-statehood supporters (i.e. Gov. Fortuño (R-PR); Res. Comm. Pierluisi (D-PR); former mayor of San Juan and fierce advocate of equality, Hernán Padilla; Kenneth McClintock, PR Sec. of State), the Enemies of Equality (i.e. PR Rep. Hector Ferrer, PPD President & House Minority Leader; US Rep. Luis Guitiérrez (D-IL); Don Soifer, Lexington Foundation; Brian Darling “Bombastic Know-Nothing“; Phylis Schlafly, Eagle Foundation), and the interviewer, the expert and the analyst (i.e. Craig Edwards, Jeffery Farrow, Luis Davila-Colon, respectively).

As noted before, there are no independence supporters on the panel, but given that this is NOT a forum for the airing out of comparisons between statehood and independence, the quality of the information gained has not been diminished one bit. Although to have been able to hear some of the Independentistas‘ rhetoric on the “Commonwealth” status would have been delightful, their absence did not translate into missed opportunities for raising very essential questions about the current status. And that mantle of chastising the Enemies of Equality at every turn fell on the pro-statehooders, and we at La Chuleta must confess that we were quite pleased with the way in which the PPD lie was, once again, cogently exposed.

The opposition, though, did not come only from the Enemies of Equality in the territory; there were two other overarching “arguments” being leveled against Puerto Rico self-determination. The first had to do with the implications of Puerto Rico’s bilingualism and the second with political composition of a state of Puerto Rico. There, the documentary makes it clear that in Puerto Rico’s status issue 90 percent of the opposition is premature or misguided, with the other 10 percent being merit-based opposition and legitimate concerns.

We hope this audio documentary provides the readers of La Chuleta Congelá’ a valuable glimpse into the very sinister actions of the PPD and the condition (political and otherwise) of the unequal American citizens of Puerto Rico.

 

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Listen to The United States Plus One: The Prospects of Puerto Rico as the 51st State (by Craig Edwards @ SolidPrinciples.com).

 

 

Brian Darling’s Cojones: Prototype of a Bombastic Know-Nothing

In Citizenship Equality, Commentary and Analysis, Enemies of Equality, H.R. 2499, Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico Democracy Act, Self-Determination, Tennessee Plan, The Big Lie: The PPD's "Commonwealth" on July 14, 2010 at 11:46 PM
How Opponents of Equality Utilize the “Brian Darlings” of the World to Fight their Dirty Campaigns

 

In the fight for equal, sovereign, democratic rights for the four million American citizens of Puerto Rico there are two kinds of people: 1) those who want to know and 2) those who wish they knew and speak as if they do.

Brian Darling is a true Vitruvian Man of ignorance when he attempts to speak about Puerto Rican affairs and the search for equal rights for all Americans in Puerto Rico.  His lack of knowledge on the issue is breathtakingly evanescent at best, and maliciously and deliberately neglectful at worst.

No economic insight into the U.S. tax code and its reverberations throughout Puerto Rico and the U.S. Treasury. No grasp of Puerto Rico’s  political history–since 1898 when the Americans took over, or even since 1952 when the so-called “Commonwealth” was instituted. No command of the most basic–and enumerated–constitutional powers of the Legislative Branch or honor for the American traditions of statehood and E Pluribus Unum. Mr. Darling’s dearth of knowledge on this issue should give us clues as to his scorched earth motives.

Darling’s most memorable piece came as a short, blog-type post for The Foundry (The Heritage Foundation’s blog) on April 27th, 2010 and titled “Puerto Rico Democracy Act: Legislation Biased in Favor of Statehood.” In the post, Darling (unsuccessfully) attempts to make a coherent argument against, principally, H.R. 2499 (the latest attempt to bring equality to Puerto Rico), generally, the costs of statehood, and, ignorantly, the traditional statehood process. Despite the title, Darling’s “argument” is two-fold: the plebiscite’s form is unfair and the costs of statehood too high.

An inconsistency right from the get go. If you pretend to care about the fairness of the process, then, why would you also mount an attack on the very process for which you seek fairness? Let us find out.

On the plebiscite’s fairness, Darling objects to the structure of the vote, which asks Puerto Ricans whether they wish to keep their current territorial status. If a majority of Puerto Ricans are not satisfied with the unequal status of “Commonwealth,” then they can vote against it, but if they like being unequal and enjoying less rights, then, they can keep “Commonwealth.”

If the first vote shows that a majority of Puerto Ricans wish to finally move forward on a constitutionally viable, sovereign form of government, then, they get a second vote on what that P-E-R-M-A-N-E-N-T status will be. At that point, Puerto Ricans will have to decide–after over 500 years of political subservience to a higher political entity, be it a king or a national legislature–which of the perpetual, equal, sovereignty-granting options they wish to establish as their form of government, and their options are limited: independence (in two varieties, but independence nonetheless) or statehood. That’s it. The U.S. Constitution does not afford any other remedy for territories.

Mr. Darling claims that because past plebiscites only asked Puerto Ricans to vote on the sovereign options (independence and statehood) on the same platform they were being asked about their current status ALL plebiscites must conform. In other words, Puerto Ricans were asked to choose a permanent option from choices that include the non-permanent option, so, according to Darling, all plebiscites should continue the half-century-old charade. That is what we call self-determining yourself out of self-determination. Brian Darling does not know anything about these pesky details. He cannot care about what he does not know. This is why he really believes that “Puerto Ricans have voted against statehood numerous times.”

Puerto Ricans have never voted against statehood, Darling. The most anybody can extrapolate from past plebiscites is that the American citizens of Puerto Rico want a change to the current territorial status, but they cannot get a straight process that provides them a chance to do that. H.R. 24 99, if nothing else, provided finality to this long issue by setting a timetable, which, incidentally, allowed Puerto Ricans to hold on to the current unequal status if they could muster the necessary majority vote. But the principle of “Majority Rules” seems to be another one of those pesky American traditions Darling would much rather ignore. H.R. 2499, as originally introduced, forced all parties involved, Americans in Puerto Rico and in the mainland (through Congress, Mr. Darling), to confront the situation head on and, most importantly, establish as a matter of national principle that the unequal relationship between the U.S. and Puerto Rico is not in either side’s long-term interest.

The reason Mr. Darling gets away with the blatant lack of respect for Puerto Rico’s democratic rights issues is because he is not alone in his buffoonery. Most of the criticism here contained can be widely applied to the multitude criticizing a process they do not understand.

Take, for example, Darling’s second line of attack on the process proposed on behalf of Puerto Ricans by their democratically elected representative and member of the statehood party, which in 2008 received super majorities in both chambers of the legislature and the mayorships of the island. The Congressional Budget Office, Darling adequately states, could not issue a score (i.e. dollar value) to H.R. 2499 because the legislation “only authorizes a vote.” Still, that was not enough for Brian “Premature” Darling. Although the CBO properly states that this is only a vote authorization with nothing to “score,” Darling wants everybody to believe that he has reliable sources that purport to know Puerto Rico’s “true” costs as a state.

Darling cites The Lexington Institute and, get this, his boss at The Heritage Foundation, Edwin Feulner. The Lexington Institute is the think-tank of choice of the PPD and we will confront their so-called research in the coming days. As for Darling’s boss, Dr. Feulner, well, if his statements about Puerto Rico are as reckless as his employee’s, then, I guess, that also makes him just as void of the same important ingredients mentioned above (i.e. insight into economic and political history of Puerto Rico, command of the controlling constitutional issues, and honor for established statehood precedent). Rather than deconstruct their economic theories about the possibility of Puerto Rico statehood and its costs, I would recommend Darling and all who live by this profile in ignorance to grab the authoritative report that, instead of describing future possibilities, describes current realities.

I speak of a book called Pay to the Order of Puerto Rico (Part I/Part II) by Alexander Odishelidze and Arthur Laffer (yeah, the “Curve” is named after him). These guys not only have done the hard research, but they have also bothered to understand the cultural, political, and status qualities that make Puerto Rico. Pay to the Order of Puerto Rico examines, in-depth, the status situation from a variety of critical angles. Odishlidze and Laffer, most importantly, analyze the American tax code and find the costs of maintaining Puerto Rico as a territory are beyond what meets the eye. Not only does Puerto Rico’s inequality cost every American family $400 per year, but also billions more in loss tax revenue to the U.S. Treasury (both from the Puerto Rico Treasury and American and foreign companies based in Puerto Rico). Here are some real numbers we all can look at and bask in the ambiance of inequality and its true costs.

Finally, Darling’s biggest blunder.

He is not content with attempting to explain what makes a plebiscite “fair” (or rather, why H.R. 2499 is “unfair”) and trying to scare Americans on the mainland into continued inequality toward Americans in Puerto Rico, no, Darling goes farther. He takes a try at pandering some “Article IV, Section 3, Clause 1” populism into the mix: “If the people of Puerto Rico can vote, the people of the United States should have a vote.”

Darling does not seem to understand what a democratic republic is. “A vote by members of Congress,” advocates Darling, “is not enough to indicate [the] consent of the American people for Puerto Rican statehood.” As he knows (now), the American people do not run their country through referenda, and the matter of statehood is expressly reserved to the people’s representatives through Congress. You know, Darling, the U.S. Senators The Heritage Foundation claims you “educate.”

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